American Military Cinema and Its Shaping of History

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MEDIA ROOTS – The military-industrial complex encompasses more than the arms and security industries. Now the corporate film industry is used to glorify American military might, stimulate recruitment, and even rewrite history. Most of these films, while claiming to be based on true events, are merely propaganda pieces and allow the modern military establishment to continue to operate with the tacit support of the American people.

While the federal government had often advised filmmakers throughout cinematic history, it wasn’t until the production of Top Gun in 1986 that the marriage of Hollywood and the Pentagon was formally established. Offices at the Department of Defense are now dedicated to supporting production companies – but with a catch. In order to receive military support, scripts must be thoroughly reviewed and often times completely revised; at times omitting passages that are historically accurate but negatively reflecting the American military apparatus.

The English channel of Al Jazeera examined this modern complex in their newsmagazine Empire. Featuring Academy-Award winning directors Oliver Stone and Michael Moore along with Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, the episode covers the history of the American military-film industrial-complex and offers insight into its long-term influence on world history.


Originally aired on Al Jazeera English in December 2010, this episode of Empire examines

the relationship of the corporate film industry and the American military apparatus.


Image provided by Flickr user kevin dooley.

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